You may have a different name for it, but your My Account experience is the self-service avenue you provide customers to manage their relationship with your brand before, during, and after the purchase process. This includes elements such as their shopping cart, wishlist, payment and shipping information, order history, loyalty program membership, preferred brick-and-mortar store, and even their favorite brands and sizes. It is also your customer’s first stop for customer service.
Why is your customer account experience so crucial?
According to Forrester, it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain and enrich a returning one, so providing your customers with a positive, smooth experience during and after purchase will increase your revenue in the long run. Your brand marketing efforts have gotten the customer through the front door, but now it’s time for your relationship marketing to keep them around and engaged.
Once a customer clicks “place order,” they expect you to follow through with an efficient and transparent fulfillment experience and, if necessary, a smooth returns process. Your account portal is key here. Once you’ve delivered on the initial purchase, you can use what you now know about them and the products they’re interested in to nurture the relationship with personalized messaging and offers within your account portal and through email. Your My Account portal also gives customers the opportunity to take charge of their experience by customizing their preferences and settings.
Zappos: Backing self-service with real people
Zappos is a retailer that has been winning at the customer experience game for a while now. The online-only footwear and apparel retailer has established a world-renowned reputation for going above and beyond in its online customer service. How? By not only providing a user-friendly web experience, but also displaying its customer service number prominently and providing its representatives with the resources and authority needed to really connect with and help the customers who call in.
Zappos’ CEO, Tony Hseih, explained that the telephone is a key differentiator in the way the company handles its customers’ needs. “I don’t think the difference [between the appeal of Zappos and the Amazon brand] is in the UI [the website user interface],” Hseih said. “It’s in how we build a personal connection, primarily on the phone. We’re actually experimenting with ways to get more people to call because it’s such a valuable marketing and brand builder for us.” (Forbes)
After sharing an account of how he had flowers sent to a customer who had called to return a pair of boots for her recently deceased father, a Zappos customer service representative reaffirmed the importance of the telephone to the company’s customer experience “The flowers aren’t what mattered here most,” he explained. “The phone is. It lets us have these in-depth, textured conversations with our customers. It’s the key to how we build customers for life.”
How can you improve your customer account experience?
Try changing the way you think about customer loyalty and retention. Remember that convenient, personalized services and offers will go a lot farther than complicated and arbitrary points and rewards systems. Also, go ahead and take a leaf out of Zappos’ book by making sure your customers can easily talk to a real person if they need to.
With the current climate of corporate mistrust and concerns about privacy, you’ll also want to be very aware of how you contact your customers and handle their information. Make sure you’re complying with the email standards set by legislation like GDPR, or you’ll risk fines and damaging negative social media attention.
What’s next in online customer service?
Many companies are utilizing chatbot technology and automated messaging to communicate with their customers. These technologies can be time-saving additions to your processes, as long as they are being used in a way that rings authentic to customers and adds value and efficiency. Again, make sure they can still reach a real person if they need to. Arguing with robots leaves very few people feeling loyal.
If you’re satisfied that you’re providing a smooth online self-service experience for your customers, take a look at how your brick-and-mortar customer service stacks up. Making sure your in-store team has access to information such as customer transaction history and customer service tickets will help create a seamless end-to-end experience that your customers will notice.
To learn more about the experiences your customers are looking for, download our free guide, The 5 Essential Retail Experiences.
Jim Hertzfeld is Principal and Chief Strategist for Perficient Digital, and works with clients to make their customers and shareholders happy through insanely great digital experiences.